Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Phoenix Suns
When: 2:30 PM CT
Where: FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee
How to Listen: 92.9 ESPN Memphis
How to Watch: FoxSports Southeast
Recently From Phoenix:
The Phoenix Suns fell to the Washington Wizards Friday night on the road, 109-106. For Phoenix, Eric Bledsoe had 22 points, and former Grizzly Jon Leuer ("Jonny Badger") had 13 points. Also, Brandon Knight was 7-16 from the field for 19 points. The Suns had 10 threes in the game, and the Wizards had 10 as well. What propelled Washington to victory was Bradley Beal's 34 points, including 5 threes. The Suns had leads multiple times in this one. Phoenix led after the first, second, and third quarters, but the Wizards had a 31 point fourth quarter to rally back and snatch away the win from the Suns. Turnovers were a problem for both teams, as the Suns had 20 and the Wizards had 21. The Suns now need to have a short memory and continue their six game road trip.
Recently From Memphis:
After a big comeback rally on Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans thanks to Marc Gasol's 38 points, the Grizzlies (or Memphis Sounds) faced off against the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night. After the first quarter, the Grizzlies led by one but found themselves down nine at halftime. In the second half, the Grizzlies just couldn't catch up. A Jeff Green three in the third quarter cut the deficit to eight, but the Spurs quickly responded and were soon back up almost twenty points.
The Grizzlies only put up 83 points on the board, and they allowed the Spurs to score 103 points. Memphis was 2-16 from beyond the arc, while the Spurs were 10-18. Tony Parker had 17 points, and Kawhi Leonard 27 points. For the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley had 15 points each. Now the Memphis Grizzlies sit at 11-9 but yet are still fourth in the Western Conference. They'll need to regroup and be ready for the high-flying Suns as they come into town for a Sunday afternoon match.
Keys to Victory:
1. Get to 100 Points
As we've witnessed this season, it's clear that the Memphis Grizzlies usually win when they reach 100. In fact, they've only lost once this season when scoring over 100 points. Getting to 100 points almost always ensures a Memphis victory, it seems. However, the Phoenix Suns possess a top ten offense (their offensive efficiency is 102.7), while the Grizzlies are tied for 22nd in that category. Memphis only scored 83 points against the Spurs on Thursday night. It's crucial that Memphis gets its offense cranked up once again. For that to happen, Marc Gasol needs to be more aggressive like he was Tuesday night, and Memphis needs an All-Star showing from Mike Conley. It would definitely help things if Memphis could bounce back from their bad three point shooting performance from Thursday as well.
2.Limit Phoenix's Fastbreak Points
The Phoenix Suns are ranked #4 in the league in fastbreak points per game (15.9). On the other hand, the Grizzlies rank 14th in the league. It's going to be imperative that the Grizzlies find some ways to get out in transition, as that tends to boost Memphis' offense overall. This also entails that the Grizzlies tighten up defensively to get some steals for transition points. Against the Spurs game Thursday, Memphis had a lot of trouble getting any fast break points. That can't be the case this afternoon. The Suns love to get out in transition, so it's important that Memphis takes care of the ball and cuts down on the turnovers, which have seemed to be more of a problem this season.
3. Eric Bledsoe vs. Mike Conley
For the Suns, Bledsoe is averaging an impressive 22.2 PPG and 6.5 assists. He's had 20+ points in four of his last five games and is shooting 39.5% from beyond the arc. Mike Conley will definitely have his hands full this afternoon, but he's up to the challenge. Thanks to the Mario Chalmers trade, Conley has been able to play less minutes for Memphis and, as a result, is allowed more rest. This has been incredibly beneficial for Memphis, who needs its star point guard at full health and at his peak of powers. Conley has finally gotten into somewhat of a rhythm, but he's still only averaging 15.6 PPG. The Grizzlies definitely need for Conley to limit Bledsoe and get going offensively. Having Mario Chalmers out on the floor with Conley at times has allowed Mike more off-the-ball action and more room to shoot his shot. Expect the Conley vs. Bledsoe match up to significantly impact today's game.
If Memphis gets off to a slow start against the Suns, the Grizzlies might not be able to claw their way back into this one. It's crucial that the Grizzlies' offense comes out strong this afternoon, and Conley has got to show up on both ends of the floor. If the Grizzlies can limit Bledsoe and limit the Sun's fast break points while racking up a fair amount of their own, then the Grizzlies should have a good chance of grabbing the win this afternoon. But if the Grizzlies allow the Suns to dictate the pace on both ends of the court, then Memphis will have their hands full. Look for a better performance from Zach Randolph as well, who struggled Thursday night after the first quarter.
Memphis 103 Phoenix 98